macOS High Sierra

Ways to view items in Finder windows

There are four ways to view items in a Finder window: as icons, as a list, in columns, or in Cover Flow view. To choose a view, use the View buttons at the top of the Finder window:

The View buttons in a Finder window.

In the four views, there are additional ways to customize how your items are displayed.

Sort items, arrange icons, and resize columns

Your settings for sorting and arranging items in a folder apply until you change them. For example, if you sort your Documents folder by Date Added, the next time you view your Documents folder, it’s sorted by Date Added.

  • Sort items: In any view, choose View > Show View Options, click the Sort By pop-up menu, then choose the sort order, such as Date Modified or Name. In List view and Cover Flow, move the pointer over the column name you want to sort by, then click it. Click the column name again to reverse the sort order.

  • Arrange items: In any view, click the Item Arrangement button , then choose an option, such as Date Created or Size.

  • Keep folders at the top: When arranging by name, you can keep folders (in alphabetical order) at the top of the list. Choose Finder > Preferences, click Advanced, then select the “Keep folders on top when sorting by name” checkbox.

  • Arrange icons neatly: In Icon view, choose View > Clean Up.

  • Resize columns: In List view, Column view, and Cover Flow, drag the line that’s between the column headings.

    To expand a column to show all filenames in their entirety, double-click the column divider.

  • Show or hide columns: In List view and Cover Flow, Control-click any column to view all columns available. Choose a column name to display or hide it (visible columns have a checkmark next to their name).

Further customize Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow view

You can customize each view to suit your preferences. For example, you can change the text size of file names and, in some views, change the size of file icons.

  1. Open a Finder window, select the folder you want to change, then click a View button: Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow.

  2. Choose View > Show View Options, then set the options you want.

    • Have the folder always open in this view: Select the “Always open in” checkbox.

    • Have subfolders also open in this view: Select the “Browse in” checkbox.

      If a subfolder opens in a different view, select the subfolder, choose View > Show View Options, then deselect the “Always open in” and “Browse in” checkboxes. The checkboxes must be selected for the main folder and deselected for the subfolder.

    • Select Icon view options: Change the icon size, grid spacing, text size, and more.

      A window listing Icon view options.
    • Select List view or Cover Flow view options: Change the icon size, text size, the columns that are displayed, and more. (List view and Cover view options are the same.)

      A window listing the List view and Cover Flow options.
    • Select Column view options: Change the text size, and whether to display icons and a preview column. All columns display your selected options.

      A window listing the Column view options.
  3. To use these settings for all Finder folders that use this view, click Use as Defaults. The Use as Defaults button does not appear for Columns view.

    For example, if you set options for Icon view, then click Use as Defaults, all folders that use Icon view appear with the same options.

To always show the Library folder, choose Go > Home to open the home folder, choose View > Show View Options, then select the Show Library Folder checkbox.